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On Grazia Deledda’s footsteps



On Grazia Deledda’s footsteps

Third appointment of #DonnediSardegna (Women of Sardinia), a series of events dedicated to yesterday and today's strong female figures from this enchanting island, organised as part of the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of the birth of Sardinian writer Grazia Deledda (Nuoro, 27 September 1871 – Rome, 15 August 1936), Nobel Prize for Literature in 1926.


For this event two Italian scholars Daniela Sannino and Elisa Segnini will celebrate Grazia Deledda’s humble yet ground-breaking role in the Italian and world literature.


Daniela Sannino will present Deledda's posthumous autobiographical novel Cosima in which Grazia Deledda depicts her-young-self as a provincial little girl who always preferred her books over toys, and who believed that her school’s blackboard was as mesmerising as a window opened to the panorama of a summer starred sky. In fact, ever since childhood, she dedicated herself entirely to writing as writing was for her almost a physical need; and from her continuous and uninterrupted work she always took immense pleasure and happiness. Dr Sannino will seek to give people a glimpse into the world of the Sardinian writer, on her private persona and her delicate relationship with storytelling. She will investigate Grazia Deledda’s personal and professional journey from her choice of progressive isolation to the Nobel Prize, taking into account her constant struggle with the Italian language, the incessant connection with her origins, the harsh incomprehension of the critics as well as the magical superstitions from her land.

Elisa Segnini will explore the relationship between Grazia Deledda and her French translator, Georges Hérelle. Hérelle was a crucial agent in the international circulation of Italian decadentismo: by translating D’Annunzio and Fogazzaro, he opened the door to these writers in France and, in doing so, he also facilitated the global reception of their work. He was also the translator of three fin de siècle female writers: Matilde Serao, Neera (Anna Zuccari) and Grazia Deledda. Hérelle’s relationship to these writers, and his stance towards their works, is documented by the letters preserved at Troye’s library archives, and has recently been published in a book form. Drawing on this material, and on Hérelle’s reflections on translation as articulated in Pétit Memoir d’un traducteur and in the correspondence with D’Annunzio, this talk seeks to answer the following questions: if Hérelle, as Guy Ducrey has recently argued (2020), can be characterized as the prototype of the ‘decadent’ translator, what aspects drew him to Deledda? How do these aspects relate to the ‘many lives’ of Hérelle as Lycée professor, historian of Basque folklore, and anthropologist of homosexuality? If decadence is mainly a question of language, of a taste for bizarre expressions, barbarisms and neologisms, how does Hérelle’s ‘classical and academic’ style (Ducrey 200) reflect Deledda’s rich, unorthodox, unruly language? In his relationship to Deledda, Hérelle imposed hegemony both as a French and as a male critic. Nobel price or not, Deledda remained for him an ‘ethnic’ writer. His practice as a translator, backed by that of the editors of French prestigious journals, denied to Deledda a cosmopolitan scope. Despite her international success and ability in international marketing, Hérelle did not envision for her novels an afterlife in translation beyond an ‘ethnic’ frame.


Daniela Sannino has a PhD in Modern Philology (Federico II, Naples). She carried out her research at the Universities of Naples and Paris (Sorbonne Nouvelle) studying literary cultural mediation between Italy and France during the 19th century. Following her graduation in 2004 in Modern Italian literature, she obtained her Master’s degree in 2006 working on Grazia Deledda’s short stories. While collaborating with the Biblioteca Universitaria of Naples, where she contributed to a series of seminars on Elsa Morante, Daniela kept alive her interest on Deledda through studies, papers and conferences organised by the University of Cagliari. After this Sardinian parenthesis, she has been appointed editor of an inventory of Domenico Morelli’s correspondence held at the National Library Vittorio Emanuele III (2009). Having obtained an Abroad Mobility Scholarship from the University of Urbino, and having finished her doctoral thesis on Luigi Gualdo in late 2009, Daniela joined the University of Edinburgh in 2010 to start a new research project focused on the cultural mediator Carlo Placci. As from September 2021, Daniela is a Language Assistant both at the University of Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Elisa Segnini is lecturer in Italian at the University of Glasgow, where she also teaches Comparative Literature and Translation Studies. She holds an MA in Modern Languages from the University of Bologna and Ph.D in Comparative Literature from the University of Toronto. She is the author of the monograph Masks, Genius and Madness: Masks and Mask-making in the Fin-de-siècle Imagination (Legenda 2021), and, with Michael Subialka, is co-editing the volume D’Annunzio and World Literature: Multilingualism, Translation, Reception (Edinburgh UP). She has written numerous articles on literary multilingualism and on the translation and circulation of modern and contemporary Italian literature for journals such as Comparative Critical Studies, The Translator, The Journal of World Literature, The Italianist, Forum Italicum. Her next monograph, titled Local Flavour, Global Audiences: Worlding Multilingual Fiction, is the first book to examine Italian multilingual fiction in terms of circulation and reception.

#DonnediSardegna #Deledda150


Date: Friday, December 03, 2021

Time: At 6:00 pm

Organized by : Italian Cultural Institute in Edinburgh

In collaboration with : Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow

Entrance : Free


Italian Institute of Culture, 82 Nicolson Street, Edinburgh